Known as one of the highest military populated states in the U.S., North Carolina is home to more than 100,000 service members and their families, and an additional 725,000 veterans. For those looking for a place to spend their leave days, they don’t have to travel too far because the Tar Heel State offers everything from mountains to beaches, and attractions in between.
With fall approaching, we found the top leisure activities for those seeking a spooky adventure and an opportunity to embrace cooler temperatures outside.
Prepare for a haunting like never before
Kersey Valley’s SpookyWoods, a North Carolina tradition since it opened, is one of the state’s most famous haunted Halloween attractions. But its roots go back much further to Swiss immigrants in 1970.
The family’s dream of owning a farm led them to Kersey Valley Road, where the vision of cultivating Christmas trees took root. The pivotal year of 1979 saw the planting of a grove of 1,000 long-leaf pines, forming the foundation for what would later become an iconic attraction.
Despite all the incredible work being done, things weren’t going so well after a few years. Then, Tony Wohlgemuth, its current president, stepped in at just 15-years-old with an idea that would revolutionize the farm in 1985.
“Starting with a simple five room haunted farmhouse and a $2 admission fee, the seeds of innovation were sown,” he said. “As time passed, the haunted attraction underwent a metamorphosis, utilizing the Christmas tree farm’s enchanting landscape to create the atmospheric masterpiece known as Kersey Valley SpookyWoods. This transformation marked the inception of an adventure that would continue to evolve.”
As autumn sweeps over the landscape, Kersey Valley springs to life in a symphony of colors and excitement, Wohlgemuth added.
“September marks the opening of the adventure park’s Maize Adventure and SpookyWoods events,” he shared. “Weekdays welcome school buses and curious students while the evenings witness the transformation of the farm into the hauntingly captivating realm of SpookyWoods”
And it’s all military friendly. Wohlgemuth was proud to share that the farm offers buy one, get one free admission across all events for veterans.
“Central to Kersey Valley’s ethos is the pursuit of crafting unforgettable memories through exceptional customer service and captivating experiences,” he said. “Our mission resonates deeply, and it is to etch moments into the hearts of visitors that stand the test of time. Each attraction, whether a zipline adventure or a stroll through the Maize, contributes to the legacy of Kersey Valley.”
The fall excitement of North Carolina doesn’t end in Kersey Valley, though. You can keep up the fun by making your way over to Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur.
“We moved to NC in 1979 when my dad was appointed project manager for the nuclear power plant in New Hill,” Beverly Mooney said. “He bought our farm in 1983 with the hopes of retiring on this property. He retired in 2001 and began planting apple trees and I had the pleasure of working with dad on the retail, marketing, and events until he passed in 2015. My husband Nick and I now manage day-to-day operations.”
From photography in their expansive sunflower fields, to u-pick farms, fall orchard hayrides and apple cider adventures — it’s an experience from start to finish.
“We grow blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, grapes, apples, pumpkins, pecans, and seasonal flowers,” Mooney explained. “We are a cider mill which produced about 4000 gallons of fresh juice last year and are one of only four places in North Carolina still producing fresh unpasteurized cider.”
She added that the bakery features family recipes such as wine cake, apple cake and carrot pineapple cake but “our most popular bakery product is our apple cider donuts that we produce hot right in front of you. Our apple barn country store carries a large selection of jams and jellies as well as other local gifts and products. We host numerous events throughout the year and welcome schools for field trips, too.”
Additional events include axe throwing, educational tourism, and quilt making. When asked how to describe North Carolina in the fall, it was easy for Mooney.
“It’s absolutely brilliant,” she said. “Crisp mornings, beautiful colors, warm cider and family.”
Visit SpookyWoods and Millstone Creek Orchards to start planning your fall adventures
This article is sponsored by HeartofNorthCarolina.comRead comments